The turnout for the television coverage of the general election results in the United Kingdom was substantially down on the previous election. For the hour after voting closed, when the exit poll results were announced, an estimated 7.3 million viewers were watching across BBC 1, ITV 1, Channel 4, BBC News, Sky News, and GB News. That was just 57.9% of those watching television at the time. It was down by almost 3 million on the total number who watched the same hour after the polls closed in 2019. Although the landslide win for Labour had seemed like a foregone conclusion, it represented a major change in the political map of the country. Yet it drew far fewer viewers than the football.

The coverage on BBC 1 drew the largest audience, with around a third of those viewing television at the time, and an average audience of 4.2 million for the first hour, before any results were declared. That was down on 6.1 million for the same hour after the last general election.

General election exit poll result projected onto BBC Broadcasting House in London. Picture: BBC

ITV1 had an estimated average audience of 1.3 million, or around a tenth of those viewing, which was down by a million on the previous election.

Channel 4, which also had uninterrupted coverage through the night, had an average audience of 0.93 million for the first hour, peaking at 1.1 million. That was up on the average of 0.46 million the last time, and above the 0.80 million in 2017.

Sky News had an average audience of 0.53 million for the first hour, peaking at 0.74 million, up on the average of 0.51 million on 2019.

BBC News had an audience of 0.31 million, down on 0.51 million in 2019.

Average audiences between 22:00 and 02:00 the following morning were 2.9 million for BBC 1, 0.84 million for ITV 1, 0.66 million for Channel 4, 0.37 million for Sky News, 0.23 million for BBC News, and 0.09 million for GB News.

The average share of the audience for the first hour of coverage across all the major broadcasters was way down on the previous election was just 57.9%, suggesting that four out of ten viewers were watching something else.

It reflects the lower turnout in the general election itself, in which just 60% of those registered to vote did so. It was down on the 67% in 2017 and was the second lowest percentage turnout since 2018.

The exit poll commissioned by the BBC, ITV and Sky and conducted by Ipsos predicted that Labour would win 410 out of 650 seats. It proved remarkably accurate, with Labour ending up with 411 seats, gaining 209, while the Conservatives ended up with 121, down by 244.

The election result viewing figures compare unfavourably to those for the coverage of the Euros, the EUFA European Championship football competition. The England game against Slovakia drew an average audience in the United Kingdom of 15.6 million, peaking at 18.4 million. The quarter final against Switzerland had an average audience of 13.6 million, peaking at 16.8 million.